Launch of Cardiff food charter

Cardiff food charter

Cardiff food charter

A Cardiff Food Charter was launched at a Sustainable Food City conference event at Cardiff University last week.

The charter aims to promote a diverse and sustainable food culture in the city and get more people buying local Welsh produce. It also hopes to provide a framework for access to healthy, environmentally friendly food, as well as building a strong local economy.

The charter’s development has been inspired by the success of similar food charters in other parts of the UK, such as Plymouth and Bristol. It has also taken inspiration from overseas projects, such as the Cowichan Food Charter in Canada.

The charter asks people in Cardiff to play their part by cooking more meals from scratch, wasting as little as possible and buying food from independent retailers. It also encourages businesses to serve healthy and sustainable food to their employees, to buy more local food and to encourage staff to grow, cook and eat fresh food together.

During the launch event, there were presentations and workshops from a wide variety of people including local food activists, action groups, academics, food businesses and government representatives.

The next stage will be to identify funding to set up a Cardiff Food Policy Council which will encourage more businesses, institutions and individuals to sign up to the Food Charter and to oversee Cardiff’s future development as a Sustainable Food City.

Video: Cowichan Green

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Vegetarian Sunday lunch

Vegetarian Sunday lunch

Vegetarian Sunday lunch

Traditional Sunday lunches do not always provide ideal vegetarian fare. I always associate a Sunday roast with my grandma’s epic portions of roast beef and enough sausages to sink a small ship.

But with crispy nut roasts, traditional Glamorgan sausages and fresh vegetables, vegetarian roasts can be just as tasty as their meaty counterparts. Thegreenveggie seeks out the best vegetarian-friendly Sunday lunches in Cardiff…

Y Mochyn Du

Y Mochyn Du

Y Mochyn Du

Y Mochyn Du, meaning the black pig, is a light and airy pub, right next to Bute Park in the heart of Cardiff. This popular drinking hole is the main meeting place for Welsh speakers in the area and you will often hear a male voice choir practicing their repertoire in the conservatory on a Saturday evening.

This pub was nominated Pub of the Year in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and their slogan “for all reasons and all seasons,” aptly sums up the pleasant setting. There’s a lovely sunny beer garden, complete with patio umbrellas for glorious summer days, as well as a cosy fire and comfy sofas for chilly winter evenings.

The vegetarian option was Glamorgan sausages, which was priced at £7.75. The sausages were delicious and were clearly handmade, using local Caerphilly cheese. These traditional Welsh sausages were thick, flavoursome and coated in crispy breadcrumbs.

The sausages were served with a generous portion of Yorkshire pudding, fresh vegetables and golden roast potatoes. The bar also had a wide range of local ales on tap, most of which were suitable for vegetarians and vegans. A great place to meet up with friends or family.

The Robin Hood

The Robin Hood

The Robin Hood

The Robin Hood is a friendly, bustling pub, tucked away in the leafy heart of Pontcanna. The shady awning and pretty window boxes give the pub a European feel and the front patio provides some excellent people watching opportunities.

The Sunday lunch menu did not offer much choice, with only three or four options available and only one vegetarian dish. However, the quality of the food more than made up for the lack of choice.

The vegetarian option was a generous slice of nut roast, served with a small silver jug of vegetarian gravy. The nut roast was crispy and packed full of different herb flavours. A large bowl of fresh vegetables was brought to the table for us to share. This included carrots, broccoli, parsnips and roast potatoes, which were all cooked to perfection.

The pub also offers a free bottle of wine if you book a table in advance, making Sunday lunch at the Robin Hood excellent value for money. A great place to take the parents.

Woods Brasserie

Woods Brasserie

Woods Brasserie

This contemporary restaurant, situated in the pilotage building in Cardiff Bay, had a very modern feel. The glass roof and minimalist decor provided a pleasant setting, which was just as well, because the service was incredibly slow.

The menu at Woods Brasserie was slightly pretentious, offering the sort of dishes where you either need a foreign phrase book, or are obliged to ask the waiter to interpret the unnecessarily elaborate and over-fussy descriptions.

On the plus side, there were several vegetarian dishes to choose from. For a starter, I tried fregola with ewe’s cheese, artichokes, pine nuts and lemon. Just in case you’re wondering (I certainly was) fregola is a type of pasta, made up of small, round beads, with a  couscous-like texture.

Although I appreciated the originality and presentation of the dish, the execution was disappointing. The fregola and artichokes were poorly cooked, with some chewy, raw pieces spoiling the otherwise light and delicate flavours.

The main course was carrot and cumin fritters with smoked baba ganoush, basil and shallot. The classic combination of carrot and cumin worked well, but the fritters were overwhelmingly oily, which made them heavy and soggy.

I had never tried baba ganoush (which is made from mashed aubergine and olive oil) and based on this experience, I would not be inclined to try it again! Like the fritters, the texture was very oily, which did not help the wetness of the fritters, and overall, the main course was mushy, with a riot of conflicting flavours fighting for the attention of your taste buds.

The restaurant was also more expensive than the previous two, with lunch costing £20 for three courses. However, after two disappointing courses and ridiculously slow service, we decided not to stay for a desert. A sunny walk around Cardiff Bay seemed more appealing!

Photos: Ewan Munro, Dom Stocqueler, John Dixon

Glamorgan sausages

Glamorgan sausages

Glamorgan sausages

After my review of vegetarian sausages, I thought I’d continue this week’s theme by posting a recipe for Glamorgan sausages. This is a simple, traditional Welsh recipe, made using locally-produced Caerphilly cheese. The sausages are great served with good, old-fashioned mash or champ (mashed potato with spring onion.)

Preparation time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 150g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled or grated
  • Half a leek or 6 spring onions, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp English mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • 45 g butter

Method:

  1. Mix together 150g of the breadcrumbs in a bowl with the cheese, leek or spring onion, parsley, thyme and salt and pepper. Blend well.
  2. Beat the eggs with the mustard.
  3. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the egg mixture and stir the remaining mixture into the breadcrumbs.
  4. If it seems too dry, add a small amount of milk to help bind it together.
  5. Divide the mixture into eight and shape each portion into a sausage, about 2.5cm thick.
  6. Put the reserved egg mixture into a shallow bowl and spread the remaining breadcrumbs onto a plate.
  7. Dip the sausages into the egg mixture and coat in the breadcrumbs.
  8. Heat the butter in a frying pan and fry the sausages for about 5 minutes, until brown.
  9. Reduce the heat and fry for a further 3-4 minutes.

Mwynhewch eich bwyd!

Photo: kersy83

Chapter Bar and Cafe

Veggie breakfast

Veggie breakfast

Chapter Arts Centre may not be the first place you’d think of going for vegetarian food, but it’s listed in the Eat Out Vegan Wales Guide and has a huge range of vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer.

Located just off Cowbridge Road East, near Canton library, Chapter is a major centre for contemporary arts, containing cinema screens, exhibition spaces and a theatre. The venue describes itself as “a meeting place for people and ideas,” and you really get a sense of this in the café-bar.

Art in the Bar

The café-bar is a pleasant, bright, airy space, which seats about 100 people. The tables are long, encouraging people to sit together and creating a friendly, sociable atmosphere. The décor changes regularly, and acts as an extra gallery area. The current “Art in the Bar” was created by Bristol-based artist, Dave Bain, and features colourful paintings of birds.

The menu is displayed on blackboards behind the bar and clearly shows which dishes are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. I met a group of friends there for brunch on Saturday morning and opted for the vegetarian cooked breakfast.

Value for money

The portions were very hearty and included vegetarian sausages, hash browns, mushrooms, eggs, tomatoes, toast and beans. The breakfasts are priced at about £5 and provide great value for money. The veggie sausage was particularly tasty and was made from mixed beans, coated in breadcrumbs.

Fresh and local

Chapter prides itself on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and works with local companies to keep their food miles to a minimum. The café-bar is also certified Fairtrade. There is a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes on the menu, from fresh pasta, to pies and burgers. There are also many locally produced real ales on tap at the bar.

Breakfasts are served from 9.30-11.30am from Monday to Friday and from 9.30-11.45am on Sundays. Lunches are served from 11.30am-3pm and Sunday roast dinner is available from 12-3pm. The café-bar is open until 11pm during the week and food is served until 9pm.

Here’s a link to Chapter Arts Centre‘s website.

Photo: Ben Sutherland

Riverside Real Food Market

Vegetable stall at Riverside Real Food Market

I won’t lie, I wasn’t entirely keen to get up early on a miserable, grey Sunday morning. And neither was I feeling too enthusiastic about the mile-long walk through the drizzle. My friend, who was nursing a rather nasty hangover, was even less enthusiastic than me.

However, I’d heard such good things about the Riverside Real Food Market, I was determined to go and find out what it could offer a hungry vegetarian.

Riverside Community Market Association

Riverside Real Food Market

The market nestles on the western bank of the River Taff, in the shadow of Cardiff’s imposing Millennium Stadium. It runs from 10am until 2pm every Sunday and offers around 30 stalls.

The market is run by the Riverside Community Market Association and was started in 1998 by a group of local food enthusiasts. Since then, it has continued to expand, attracting both locals and visitors. A recent survey showed that more than 1600 people attend the market on a typical Sunday.

Suzanne Olsen, Site Manager, said: “Visitor numbers took a dive during the recession, but they are recovering now. People are realising that fresh and organic food is not as expensive as they thought.”

The first thing we noticed was the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the market. The stall holders are passionate about their work and will take the time to explain exactly where they source their ingredients and how they make their products.

The Parsnipship

The Parsnipship

When it came to vegetarian stalls, we were spoilt for choice. We started by wandering over to the The Parsnipship, a co-operative that prides itself on offering 21st century vegetarian cuisine. The collective was founded by Ben Moss in 2009 and recruits and trains vegetarian cooks to run their own businesses, by cooking and selling locally sourced, seasonal food at farmers’ markets.

Ben said: “Our aim is to change the perception of vegetarian and vegan cooking in this country.” He added: “80% of our customers are not vegetarian or vegan, but they are changing their eating habits from carnivore at least a couple of times a week.”

I tried a spinach and potato cake, which was absolutely delicious. It was beautifully browned on top and the spinach was very tender and fresh. The care of presentation and the combination of herbs made a very simple recipe into something really special.

The Cardiff Herb Company

Cardiff Herb Company

Next, we headed to the Cardiff Herb Company, which sells a range of organic herbs and herbal teas.The company grows all of its fresh-cut herbs and herb plants in both Cardiff and St Hilary, South Wales, and donates 10% of its profits to the Canton Community Garden.

Victoria Welles, who runs the company, said: “I love my job. I get to spend my days planting and picking herbs. It’s very physical work, but it’s a great lifestyle.”

I tried a sample of rose tea, which contained rose petals, vanilla pods and rosehips. The tea had a delicate, fragrant scent and a light and subtle flavour. Elena bought a pack of “Awake” tea, which contains elderflower, lime and peppermint and is designed to be energising, fresh and clean. Maybe this will help us through our 9 o’ clock lectures…

All-vegan

Frantastic Crepes

With our palettes cleansed, we couldn’t resist the alluring smell of veggie burgers and made our way over to the all-vegan Frantastic Crepes. The stall is run by a wonderfully bubbly woman called Fran Munro, who makes a mean veggie burger! All of her products are locally sourced and freshly made. I tried a black-eyed bean burger, which had a delicious combination of spices and was served with a tangy homemade chutney.

As if that wasn’t enough to entice you to the stall, Fran has made us a kind offer and says anyone who quotes thegreenveggie when they buy a bean burger will be given a free Welsh cake (which I can thoroughly recommend!)

Fresh and healthy

Riverside market stall

After my early morning reluctance to get out of bed, I left the market feeling contented with life, and Elena’s hangover had been miraculously cured. I would entirely recommend a trip to the Riverside Real Food Market. It will give you that warm, fuzzy glow inside, knowing that you’re buying fresh, healthy food and supporting the local economy, but most importantly, it’s just plain tasty!